This week, the shocking images from National Geographic of an emaciated polar bear just hours from death went viral. The polar bear was filmed stumbling, barely able to walk on a land devoid of ice in the Baffin Islands in Canada. The bear, looking in barrels desperately for anything to eat, eventually lies down on the ground, exhausted. The worst part? The photographer, Paul Nicklen, couldn’t do anything about it. It is illegal to feed polar bears, and besides, he didn’t have a tranquiliser or any meat on him. The bear he filmed was almost certainly dead by the time the footage came out.
It’s haunting and incredibly sobering to witness the results of the absolute devastation we have caused our planet. It isn’t just the polar bears who are suffering already, but millions of species including our own. Our oceans are saturated in plastic which poisons and chokes whole food chains, our skies are filled with CO2 which has no place else to go. We’re caught up in a cycle of consuming and throwing away producing mountains of waste often shipped to poorer countries because we can’t be bothered to clean up our own mess safely. Often, we feel hopeless in the face of everything that needs to change if we’re to save our world, its species, and ourselves. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing we can do, in fact it’s quite the opposite, it’s the changes we make and the more we learn which contributes to real change. LAPP have compiled our best tips on how we can make a real difference to the world beneath our feet.
Get your waste under control
If you aren’t already recycling then do what your mama damn brought you up to do and separate your recyclables. If you live in the UK there is no excuse, you have a normal waste bin, a recycling bin and a food recycling bin, use them. When it comes to clothes, learning some very basic sowing skills is invaluable, but if you have clothes you don’t want which are in a condition too bad to send them to charity, put them in a bin bag next to your recycling bin, and they can be recycled too. Another trick is to utilise Google for everything. Laptop or phone broken? Google it first! It might be a simple solution you can do/ask a tech savvy friend to do at home instead of throwing it away completely.
Buy less, and buy better
Ok, so the psychological effects of retail therapy and the high after buying have been supported by research. However, more consumption means more waste and often of things you didn’t wear/enjoy that much anyway, plus, that high? It’s temporary, and of course, followed by a low. The key here is perhaps to be kind but firm. Buy the things you need, and one or two that you want, that mean a lot to you. Try not to go crazy and have ‘hauls’ for the sake of it- they’re not great for your mental health in the long run as you constantly try to play catch up with what’s cool. Alternatively, buy from charity shops, or sustainable brands.
*The ever-controversial idea of not funding a system of abuse and murder of billions of innocent animals which is simultaneously one of the biggest contributors to climate change.* But seriously, cutting down on meat and dairy has a huge effect, even if you’re just doing Meat Free Monday. If the world gave up beef consumption it would impact the environment more than giving up driving cars, and 40% of land on earth is used for farming. Just eating less meat and dairy has incredible positive impacts for not just the earth and the animals we share it with, but also your own health, and your budget!
Get clued up- our economic and environmental systems are linked
Anyone with a Twitter account knows that Capitalism is evil and we’re all going to die anyway. But, our economic system does have a huge impact on the environment. Put basically, we work for businesses whose priority it is to produce profit by taking resources and making products. Our resources are finite, and when we’re finished with products they often become waste, so we’re running out of the basic building blocks we need to survive. However, profit is everyone’s main concern and so we keep producing, consuming and wasting on a mass scale. Here, the best thing to do is to question a company’s motives and try to buy from businesses who are making a genuine effort to cut down on their environmental impact. Don’t let greed take your planet from you.
The little things
Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth, turn off the light switch when you leave the room, don’t spend 50 minutes per shower. Walk or get the bus where possible (I know most young people are at the stage where driving is still novel, and it’s defo cheaper than getting the train, but small local journeys can be done in ways which benefit the health of the environment and you). It’s the little things you do or the small changes you make that make a huge difference.
So, do you really want to #savethepolarbears, or is it just a sentiment? A way to vocally express your outrage on Twitter without actually doing anything? Saving the planet is easy if we actually give it a go, the world is being suffocated by humans and we need to do something. But that’s the whole point, you can do something, you can recycle, eat less meat, walk to the shops to buy things you need and not things you’ll waste. Making these changes is empowering because you’ve regained just a little bit of control over your life and the future of billions your actions directly impact. It’s the little things.
Written by Katherine Skippon